Drama Taking Centre Stage

19 March 2018

 

As a teacher, I don’t think you can feel a greater sense of pride than when you hear of the success achieved by a former pupil. Mr Evans and I have been incredibly fortunate to see for ourselves just how well some of our former Caldicotians have done in recent years.

This year alone, we have seen a number of productions at senior schools starring old boys.  Marlow Turner performed in a marvellously staged production of “1984” at Stowe.  Jesse Beardsworth was grim but seditiously funny in his performance as executioner Harry Wade in "Hangmen" at Radley, written by Martin McDonagh, of "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri" fame (see interview below).  Harry Lloyd Yorke has gone on to have tremendous success at Eton. Although only his second year, he has played a leading role as Emily Webb in Thornton Wilder's “Our Town” and is currently cast as Desdemona in the school's production of William Shakespeare’s “Othello”. We knew from his performance as Adelaide in our production of “Guys and Dolls” that we had barely scratched the surface of his talent, and my goodness, that boy can act!

Inspiring the younger generations, we took a number of our future Harrovians to see Matthys Du Toit perform the title role in Sophocles's “Antigone”. In Harrow’s production of “Oh! What a Lovely War” we saw accomplished performances by Rafe Wendelken-Dickson and Freddie Heffer, who was awarded a drama scholarship in his third year at the school. Credit also goes to Luke Shailer who, having cut his teeth in Centenary Hall's black box, was Lighting Operator for that production.  It was a wonderful opportunity for our boys to see the standard of production on offer to them at their senior schools.

We were also so delighted to hear of Bryn Williams's success as part of the production crew on the Oscar winning short “The Silent Child”. His brother, Aled Williams, was awarded an Outstanding Talent scholarship to Harrow and has gone on to have great success in productions with the National Youth Theatre and Michael Grandage's Company Futures.

It was only a few years ago that 6th Former, Henry R, had a starring role in Terry Gilliams’s opera “Benvenuto Cellini” at The English National Opera. With Charlie D’s (6th Form) drama scholarship to Harrow this year and Toby W’s (2nd Form) success on the small screen, it really feels that drama is having its moment to shine, and boy do we feel very lucky to have such talent in the school. With auditions for the senior production next term, we know that every part will be coveted.

Mr Adam Cross, Head of Drama at Harrow had only kind words to say about his visit to Caldicott earlier this term: “It was a pleasure to come and meet some of your enthusiastic thespians, and I was very impressed with their energy and focus! Do keep encouraging your talented dramatists towards Harrow!”

We are incredibly excited about the future of drama here at Caldicott and look forward to sharing new work with you.

Jo Duncan and David Evans

 

Photographs:

Toby W on set of "The Last Post" | Jesse Bearsworth in "Hangmen" at Radley College - Photo taken by Caitlin Lock Photography | "The Silent Child"

 

Interview with Jesse Bearsworth - lead in "The Hangmen" at Radley College.

What have you gained from the opportunity to be involved in drama productions at Caldicott and Radley?

For me personally, being in productions at Caldicott, cemented my love of Drama at a young age. The best thing about the way in which Caldicott Drama operates is that it is not too dissimilar to Radley, in that all plays put on tend to have ensemble casts, which showcase the talent across the years far better than a play with a small amount of cast members. Drama at Radley has taught me to work in a group far better than any other extra-curricular activity, bar sports, and at a boarding school that bond is key.

What did you enjoy most about your recent role in Hangmen?

“The Hangmen” is the first play in which I have had the lead role, as in previous productions at both Radley and Caldicott I usually played a minor character or part of the ensemble, serving mainly as the comic relief.  I greatly enjoyed getting into character as a foul-mouthed northerner, and the complexities of the character were a joy to act. Being centre stage for the first time was an experience that I am unlikely to forget anytime soon.

What advice would you give to younger boys looking to become involved in drama?

I would simply say: Go for it. Don't be scared of putting yourself out there or worrying about what your friends may think, because sometimes you don't know how good you can be if you are unwilling to take risks. Auditions for “Hangmen” were the first time I really, went for it, in an audition and it definitely paid off. It may seem a cliché but it is a cliché for a reason - because it's true.

What have you got planned next?

Aside from my A-Levels and Rugby, I am currently in the process of auditioning boys for a student-led production of “The Pillowman”, another play by “The Hangmen” playwright Martin McDonagh, which we aim to put on towards the end of the year.